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Easy Food Preservation ft. Megan of The Creative Vegetable Gardener

Easy Food Preservation ft. Megan of The Creative Vegetable Gardener

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Show Notes

Join Nicole and Megan from Creative Vegetable Gardener as they discuss easy food preservation in this week’s Backyard Bounty podcast.

What You’ll Learn

  • Types of easy food preservation
  • How to store fresh vegetables
  • What to preserve to make preparing your dinner easier!
  • How to plan a garden to make sure you have enough food to preserve.

Our Guest

Megan is a garden educator, speaker, and writer and has been running The Creative Vegetable Gardener for about 8 years and has been gardening for 20 years! She lives in zone 5, Madison, WI.

Megan offers simple & easy gardening advice focused on helping people get better results from their garden. Her mission in life is to help gardeners cut through the noise of all the overcomplicated gardening advice out there by keeping it simple.

Megan always focuses on the essentials first, helping gardeners skip over the common mistakes by stripping things back to the basics, making sure you’re growing more food, and getting the results you want.

She’ll help bring more pleasure to the whole gardening experience by guiding people into delving more deeply into the beautiful details of gardening with some fun experimentation.

Megan from The Creative Vegetable Gardener in vegetable garden

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Transcript

Announcer: 0:01

Welcome to the Backyard Bounty Podcast from HeritageAcresMarket.com, where each week you'll be hearing inspiring stories and educational interviews with extra guests to help your hobby farm thrive. And now, here's your host, Nicole.

Nicole: 0:16

Hello, everybody. And thank you so much for joining me for another episode of Backyard Bounty. I'm your host, Nicole. And today I'm joined by Megan from the Creative Vegetable Gardener. And today we're going to talk about super easy food preserving. And Megan, thank you so much for joining me today.

Megan: 0:33

My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Nicole: 0:35

Absolutely. So, you know, garden season is starting to get into full swing, more people are gardening this year than in years past. So I think that food preservation is a really great topic. You know, it's sometimes you end up growing a little bit more than then you can eat at the time. So preservation is a good way to keep it throughout the season. So before we dive into all of that, can you tell us a little bit more about your gardening experience?

Megan: 1:03

Sure. I'm actually this year is my 20th anniversary of becoming a gardener. So I feel like I should celebrate in some way. I grew up in Philadelphia in a very urban area, and we didn't have a yard. We didn't have any grass, we only had a little bit of grass, but no yard and I didn't really know anyone who garden. I didn't know actually that gardening was a thing that people did. Because when you live in the big city, there are a lot of people that are gardening. So it really wasn't until after college, I was living in San Francisco. And I started to think that I wanted to learn how to grow my own food. Looking back, I really don't know exactly where those thoughts came from. I did start to go to the farmers market. At that time, I didn't really know how to cook, I didn't eat a lot of vegetables. I didn't grow up in a household where my parents cooked or we even really ate a lot of vegetables. So I was just starting to explore it because it was there in San Francisco, there were a lot of farmers markets and the local food scene was really starting to become popular. So I thought I kind of want to learn how to grow food. So I ended up applying and getting an internship on a farm in northeast Missouri. So I moved from San Francisco to northeast Missouri to a rural area that I had only it was a town of only 100 people.

Nicole: 2:21

Oh my goodness.

Megan: 2:22

Needless to say it was a huge shock. And yeah, I'd never lived in a rural area or on a farm. So there's a pretty steep learning curve. I worked with the farmer there, the person that grew all the vegetables. And that was my first foray into gardening. And I really just fell in love with it. So yeah, it's just one of those decisions like looking back in life, you realize that was a really important and big decision I made at the time, but I didn't know that until afterwards because it really shot my life on a totally different direction. Sure. And I actually ended up meeting my now husband that that same exact time on that farm so so I say I had two loves in my life, my husband and gardening.

Nicole: 3:02

Oh, I love it. And so I assume you've been pretty much gardening ever since.

Megan: 3:08

Yeah, I've been gardening ever since I worked for a nonprofit for seven years and develop the kids gardening program and then a youth farm for K-12. So I've run gardening programs. I had a community garden plot for about 10 years. I live in Madison, Wisconsin, in zone 5 and I own a house where we created a garden and now we sold that house. And now we've been living in our current house for about six years and I developed a vegetable garden there as well. So I live in the city and the lights are fairly big. I have about a quarter of an acre which is pretty big for in the city. Not very big if you live outside the city. But it gives us a good amenities and be able to walk and bike a lot of places but also have a fairly big vegetable garden. So yeah, my gardens in my front yard, which I love is the first time I've ever really had a front yard garden. And it's been really fun because I meet a lot of neighbors a lot of people stop by people pull over in their cars sometimes to ask me questions or just compliment the garden so so are my gardens very visible now. It's my I live on the corner. And so my garden wraps around the front and the side of my house and there's a lot of bikers and walkers that go by so so it's been really fun because I feel like it'd become kind of a proponent of front yard vegetable gardens because it's a great way to interact with all of your neighbors in the neighborhood as a whole.

Nicole: 4:34

Yeah, that's great. So do you have a front and a backyard garden now or just in the front?

Megan: 4:39

Well, it's really on the front and the side. The our the way that our house is situated on our lot is kind of odd. So we do kind of have a backyard, but it's all shade. So we ended up putting the garden in the front and the side because those are the sunniest areas.

Nicole: 4:56

So what are some of your favorite things to grow and are If we're going to talk about food preservation, I imagine you grow quite a bit. So about how much do you produce a year from your garden?

Megan: 5:08

Yeah, it's I've never really thought about weighing everything and calculating, but it's always felt kind of tedious. I have never done that. So I do focus on large amounts of certain things, especially things that I like to preserve. So I usually grow about 500 onions. I just started my onion seed couple days ago. So about 500 onions, a lot of those are storage onions that I put in my basement, we still have a whole bunch a whole bunch of several different crates of onions in the basement that we're still using. I usually grow about 220 garlic, because I also like to store garlic in my basement. I grow a lot of kale last year had 17 plants that I decided that was the perfect amount. And I freeze a lot of kale for the winter. So I've been using it several days this week I had I just made like a frittata or a little omelette for for lunch and I just chopped off some frozen kale and threw that in an egg dish. So that comes in really handy. I grow a lot of peppers, sweet peppers and hot peppers, sweet peppers, I usually do a lot of freezing. I also have a fermentation recipe that I like that takes red, sweet red peppers, and then hot peppers, I freeze and then also ferment those as well into different hot sauces. And then I grow a lot of wide variety. So some things that are just for fresh eating like spinach, mostly I just eat fresh, I kind of have, I would say three different seasons in my garden. Even though I live somewhere that has a short season, I have a spring season, summer season, and then I'm really into season extension in the fall and into the winter. So then I plant a whole bunch of things. Usually I'm harvesting out of my garden until November. So Thanksgiving, maybe a little later this year, my last harvest was in early December. So yeah, as much for fresh eating as possible. And then because I live in a cold area with a long winter, we do have a farmers market in the winter, but it gets pretty sparse. And so I focused on trying to put away a lot of food so that I can eat food from my garden, basically all year round, because I have a lot of things preserved. But I'm not huge into canning. Because it's a lot of work. I kind of focused on what's the easiest and quickest way to get food into preservation. And that's what I end up doing.

Nicole: 7:32

Yep, canning, I love canning, but it's I definitely dread it too. So you mentioned obviously canning and freezing and fermenting. And then the kind of like the root cellar cold storage. But what are some of the other food preservation methods that you use?

Megan: 7:53

I always look at it is a scale. So for me, it's the easiest possible thing to do it would be to store something fresh, right, so you don't have to really do anything to it. And those are the things that I put down in my basement. I don't have a root cellar, but I have an unfinished basement that gets pretty cool in the winter. And then there's a closet in there that doesn't really get any light. So that's where I put everything. So fresh storage is probably my number one choice. And the things that I most commonly store are onions, garlic, and then different winter squashes. Those are the easiest, if I've grown sweet potatoes, I'll do sweet potatoes, you can do regular potatoes, I don't eat a lot of regular potatoes. Those are some of the things you can store fresh. And then the next step really his fridge, which also doesn't really take a lot of work. I store garlic, beets and carrots in my fridge for a pretty long amount of time. I still have carrots from last fall's harvest, we ate all the beets. But both of those things store for quite a long time in bags in your fridge. And then the next one would be freezing, which is still pretty easy. There's some things that need to be pre processed, like broccoli, you it's good to steam it or blanch it before you freeze it. But something like kale, you can just chop it up, stick it in plastic bags and throw it in your freezer. You don't have to do any pre processing. And then fermentation is probably as the fourth method that I use as well because it's pretty easy. I think there's a little bit of a learning curve once you figure out and learn how to ferment food after that. It's just a really easily repeatable process. You just need good recipes. And so I do, we're pretty much out of we have some some hot ferments left where I just mix a whole bunch of hot peppers together and ferment them so so you only eat a little bit at a time. Sure that's pretty much all we have left. We ate through all of our other ferments, which is sad.

Nicole: 9:51

Yeah. So do you have a favorite I guess, preservation method? I mean, obviously it's going to depend on the actual crop that you're saving, but is there one that you are especially fond of over the other?

Megan: 10:07

Really, because I need different methods to preserve different vegetables show and say it's more that there are certain vegetables that are important for me to have. And I would say garlic and onions are right up there because we cook a lot from scratch at home. And most of the dishes that we cook begin with onions and garlic in a pan with some kind of oil. And so it's important for me to have those two things because I like to use my own. I definitely am a big proponent of eating locally as much as possible and where I live, that's a lot more difficult to do in the winter. So that's why I try to save as much as my own food as possible. So garlic and onions, yeah, are really important. And then some of the things I freeze feel really important. I also freeze a lot of sauces, a lot of herb sauces, so pesto, chimichurri, I have a taco sauce an Asian taco sauce that's from a recipe that I like that I freeze that. And so those things kind of help make preparing dinner easier. And so those are always a priority, but I wouldn't, you know, the best way to preserve those are really to freeze them. So yeah, I would say it's more, I have my list of one of the most important vegetables and however the best way to preserve them is that's what I do. So that's why I end up with kind of a mix of preservation methods.

Nicole: 11:27

Yeah, that makes sense. So I know that on more than one occasion, I've found myself scrambling last minute, for example, the first year that our Peach Orchard had a bumper crop, I ended up with 60 pounds of peaches, and no idea what to do with all of them. So I definitely wish that I had prepared and been proactive instead of reactive. But what sort of things do we need to be aware of or think about to be prepared for that seasons? that we're not scrambling and losing some of our crops, because they've, you know, spoiled?

Megan: 12:01

Yeah, that's a great question, I think part of it is, do you want to spend some time preserving, right, some people don't want to do that. And so then I would say, with a peach tree that's a little bit different, because you can't really control how many peaches you're getting. But with other things you can. So I would say green beans is something that a lot of people end up with tons and tons of green beans. So if you're not someone who wants to preserve, I would say get more familiar with the vegetables that you grow and try not to grow more than you can eat and maybe giveaway. I kind of feel like if you're throwing away or composting vegetables, it's it's such a waste of time and money that you invested into your garden. And so that's one way to to avoid having too much. And keeping garden records is a great way where you you keep you know, for green beans, you can say how many feet you planted. Kale, I know I planted 17 plants last year because I have a map where I write everything down on. And so if I had if I was inundated with kale, even though I freeze it, I would say okay, that's too many plants. Next year, maybe I'll plant 13 or 12. Or you know, I always write myself notes. So that would be one step if you're not interested in preserving, but if you are interested in preserving, which I am, there's things that I specifically plant a lot of so that I have enough to preserve. So I have already talked about how I plant 500 onions, I do that because I want to be able to store onions. So I think preserving is very unique to the individual. Because it all depends on what you eat, and what you buy at the grocery store on a regular basis. So what I usually recommend people do is start with really thinking about what do you eat on a regular basis? What do you buy from the grocery store on a regular basis? If you have favorite recipes? What are the building blocks of those recipes? And are there some ingredients in those lists that you can grow and preserve yourself. So like if you make guacamole all the time but you live in Wisconsin, you're not going to be able to plant an avocado tree, so you don't really want to focus on the things that you can grow in your own garden. So a good example in our house is that we eat a lot of beans and rice type dishes, enchiladas, or burritos or tostatas and so we try to have the ingredients that go into that so we we actually do salsa is the only thing we can to red salsa. So we usually make sure we can some salsa and then we have garlic and onions that are stored in the basement. Usually some kind of peppers that are frozen in the chest freezer is another ingredient in the past I frozen corn to go into there and then I usually make a roasted tomatillo salsa and just freeze that so we can have red and green salsa and then we have a lot of these ingredients to that dish, or the or even we can make variations of that dish enchiladas or burritos or tacos or whatever. And then that kind of gives us a ready made meal with lots of variations, we using the same ingredients. And so that's one thing that I would recommend that people do really just take a look at your own eating and grocery shopping habits, and then figure out what's easy for you to grow. What could you grow a lot of, and also what's easy to preserve, if you don't want to spend a lot of time canning or processing things.

Nicole: 15:34

What's the best way to go about figuring out let's say, I eat a lot of eggplants, just because that's when you haven't mentioned, how do I know how to preserve an eggplant? Or if it's even possible to preserve them for use and in whichever way that I want to be able to use it in the future?

Megan: 15:52

Yeah, so a plan number one would be to think, how do you usually use an eggplant? So if you use it in Lasagna, I had I knew I had a friend who would just make a bunch of lasagna in the summer when eggplant was coming in. And then just she actually would cut them cut then cut them all into pieces, wrapped them in different containers. And those were her lunches. She was a teacher so she was just grab a Lasagna out and probably pop it in the microwave at school. So I think that's the first step. How do you usually eat a plan? Do you make Eggplant Parmesan? Do you make Baba Ghanouj? Do you make Lasagna? And or do you just like it on top of pizzas. So that's really the first step. So I would say like, if you really like Baba Ghanouj, you could just make a bunch of Baba Ghanouj when a plant is in season and then just freeze it. If you have it in, if you put it in a dish that you really like you could do, like my friend did make the actual dish and freeze it. I've made Ratatouille, which is really easy to freeze with eggplant, because eggplant and zucchini and tomatoes are all coming on at once. And so I'll cook those down. And I always call it Ratatouille ish. And it's kind of like Ratatouille, but sometimes we throw it on pastas. And as we add it to chilis, and we put it in a soup, it's pretty versatile.

Nicole: 17:10

Sure.

Megan: 17:11

So I think that's a first step, think about how you use it. And then you could do some googling or in some reading to say, Okay, if I want to make Baba Ghanouj, what's the best way to preserve it. And then you could also Google around the internet and just saying ways to preserve eggplant and see what kind of different ways people suggest preserving it so that you have an idea and you're somewhat prepared. When a plant season comes and you have more than you can eat you already think about you've already thought about what you might do with it.

Nicole: 17:41

And so I imagine it's probably best, much like canning, when you're wanting to do this preservation to batch it to do it all at the same time, instead of like little smaller batches, or obviously one at a time would probably be very inefficient as well.

Megan: 17:56

So I think that that's one of the benefits of some of these other ways of preserving over canning is that you don't necessarily need a huge batch. So for freezing, if you only have four, you know, maybe you harvest six red peppers, and you're going to eat two, you can just cut up those other four and throw them in a freezer bag and stick them in your freezer, you don't need to fill a jar or fill a certain volume. So that's kind of what I like about it is that that for some things, I just do it as I go. And kale would be a good example. Because I have so many kale plants, we eat a lot of kale fresh, I give a lot away to friends and neighbors. But then periodically, I noticed that my plants need a harvest. So I'll just go out and harvest a bunch of kale and then I'll just cut it all up and, and stick it in freezer bags. Or you could just go to one plant and kind of trim that one plant. So I think that's kind of the nice part of some of those officially freezing, that you don't really need a whole bunch all at once in order to preserve it. You can top off that bag over the course of a couple months when you have more red peppers or more kale.

Nicole: 19:07

That would definitely be be nice because I I'm convinced that canning never, you know, you think it's gonna take two or three hours and next thing you know, it's midnight and you have to work the next day and you're still canning.

Megan: 19:23

Here in Wisconsin. It always seems to fall on a weekend where it's 85 degrees and you're sweating and...

Nicole: 19:31

Yeah, absolutely. But I still enjoy it, but oh my goodness. So what about tomatoes? I know that that's one that people, myself included, tend to have way too many of and your neighbors can get tired for your free tomato gifts after a while.

Megan: 19:50

Yes, that's true. Yeah, tomatoes, I think are probably one of the most common things that a lot of gardeners grow in their gardens. And I do think it's one thing that a lot of people assume they have to can in order to preserve it, and like I said, we do, we take some of our tomatoes and make some salsa because frozen red salsa just isn't the same, it's not as good as canned tomato salsa. And we've tried lots of different kinds for the grocery store, we really say none of them are as good as ours. So we make our own. So tomatoes, what I like to do is instead of canning, and I like to have them be somewhat versatile, so maybe I'm gonna use them in soups, or maybe I'm going to use it use it as a tomato sauce. But what I do is just chop all the tomatoes, and it doesn't matter if they're paste or slicers or cherries, I just, I just chopped them all up. And then I put them in a stainless steel casserole pan. And I just bought from a restaurant supply store for like 25 bucks, and then I put them over, put that over two burners on my stove, so that I'm kind of cooking it down double time. And you could just do it into a pot. But I found when you have more surface area, the water kind of cooks off quicker. And so I just put it on that double burner on my stove, put it on low medium, so it doesn't burn and just cook it down for usually how much time have patience to wait so so but probably about an hour and a half or so sometimes they just put it on after dinner in the summer. And then once it cooks down to something that looks more like sauce, that I let it cool. And then I just put it into bigger yogurt containers and then put it in the freezer, okay, so you can probably the easiest thing to do is is freeze tomatoes hole or even you can just chop them and freeze them. But tomatoes have a lot of water in them. And so when you're if you don't cook them down, you're freezing a lot of that water. And so for me, I'd rather make that extra step to cook off some of the water so I have a more I can fit more tomatoes into the same amount of space and that the flavors a little bit more concentrated. And so I those are really you can use those yogurt containers for anything that calls for canned tomatoes, so I never buy canned tomatoes anymore, and haven't for many years. So if I have a recipe that calls for can hold tomatoes, or canned chopped tomatoes or diced tomatoes, it doesn't really matter. I'll just defrost one of those containers and then just dump it into the recipe. Okay, so we use it for chili, we use it for soups, we use it for all kinds of different things. And then if you want to make pasta sauce, you can just put some onions and garlic in a pan dump one or two of those yogurt containers in there and cook it down a little bit more if it's a little watery, add some spices and then you have a really delicious tomato sauce for pasta as well. So that's my favorite way and I actually have a blog post about it on my website with a video of exactly what I do. So we'll make sure we put that link in the show notes in case people want to watch it.

Nicole: 22:52

Sure.

Megan: 22:52

But you're right tomatoes are easy to have a lot.

Nicole: 22:55

Yes. Do you remove the skins before you do that? Or do you just leave skin on?

Megan: 23:01

Yeah, that's a great question. I do not because I think it's way too much work this season the skin stay and I just decided who cares. I'm just going to eat them you know, grocery store, tomato sauce and some tomato products ah strain all that off. But I realized I don't want to do that. So I'm just gonna eat the skins on the seeds and I don't even notice them anymore. Maybe some if you're really sensitive you might but yeah, too much work!

Nicole: 23:30

Yeah. What about green tomatoes? I know here we have an issue with getting a lot of tomatoes but sometimes they don't necessarily ripen up before we get the weather that comes in and so we have lots of green tomatoes. Do you have any uses for those?

Megan: 23:48

Yeah, I don't usually preserve any green tomatoes. Sometimes I brought tomatoes in right before the frost that had a little bit of color and put and wrap them up in paper and tried to get them to to ripen. I have to be honest that by the end of the season, I actually don't think the tomatoes tastes as good anymore. They tend to be kind of like watery and maybe a little foamy and so I don't go to great lengths to try to save my tomatoes. You know the frost combs and the plants die and I just put everything in the compost so but sometimes people will do you can do like a green tomato chutney I've heard of people doing and you could probably just freeze that you don't necessarily have to can it. Certain people make fried green tomatoes, something to eat fresh but yeah, I'm not I'm actually a huge fan of green tomato so I throw them in the compost. I don't feel guilty like I don't just go on a compost and then break down and feed my garden.

Nicole: 24:46

Right. And what about herbs? I know that's another one that people tend to have too much.

Megan: 24:54

Yeah, I think herbs are really easy to grow. I think they're one of the most worth it to grow things in your garden because because it can be expensive at the grocery store, they go bad quickly in your fridge, I don't really like that they always come in this part plastic a lot of times feels really wasteful. So I love to grow my own herbs. And yeah, so it's very easy to get more herbs than you could possibly use because you only need a tablespoon or a teaspoon or whatever. So I like to do a lot of herb sauces. So this is another kind of related to when we're talking about a plant but just think about the things that you like to eat during herb season that you might put herbs on. So if you like to make some pesto, can you make a bunch of pesto and freeze it tested isn't doesn't just have to be basil you can make I usually put a whole bunch of different herbs and kale in my pesto. And so you can make different pestos you can make different sauces, I have a chimichurri sauce that I always make during the height of herb season. I have a ton of Asian taco sauce that I make. So and I make all those different pestos and sauces and I just put them in jam jars or pint jars and then just throw them in the freezer. So I actually when I was eating lunch today, I just looked and we had a jar and pesto jar, chimichurri and a jar of the taco sauce. So sometimes we just roast vegetables and make it green, make some rice and then just throw one of those sauces on there. So I love doing it that way. And so you can look for different herb recipes in the summer and try them out fresh. And then if you like them, you can make a couple batches to freeze that makes cooking dinner in the winter really, really easy. And having a nice bright herb sauces makes everything really tasty. And some of those herb sauces would be pretty expensive to make sure you're buying all the herbs from the grocery store. Yeah, then there's some you can freeze parsley, if you want to just send the freezer in bags, I've seen people chop up onion chives and put them in jars and put them in the freezer, you can make herb ice cubes, sometimes I've done that before where I chopped a bunch of herbs and put them all in ice cube trays. And then you can put some oil or butter or just water over them. So there's lots of different creative ways to get them into food preservation so that you don't have to buy a lot of herbs over the winter when they tend to be more expensive. And that's kind of one of the overall benefits I think of food preserving is that in the winter is when a lot of food costs are high, because things are coming from really far away. And you can cut down some of your food costs by eating some of your own food that you put away for the winter.

Nicole: 27:34

So do you do anything with drying, especially for the herbs? It's because as somebody that doesn't have a lot of freezer space, I feel like that could definitely be limiting. And that's one of the reasons I like, like to do the canning. I don't I don't like to do the canning, but I like to do the kidney. So do you do anything with dehydration or freeze drying or anything like that?

Megan: 27:59

Yeah, I do do some drying mostly what I do is herbs. Freezing can be a challenge. If you don't have room I have a chest freezer in my basement. And so I generally fill it up most years and then we eat it down over the winter. But for drying, I drive I dry a lot of mint too. I grow mint and I dry, I drink a lot of mint tea and pretty much drink mint tea every day. So I dry that and that you don't even need for herbs. They're already on the drier side, so you don't really need a dehydrator to process them. What I often do is just harvest a bunch of mint and then I put it in a paper bag with handles and then I just hang the paper bag sometimes in my office sometimes in the kitchen. And then that gives some air circulation and then I just leave it there until the leaves are really brittle and then I can take them off and then I just store everything in jars.

Nicole: 28:55

Oh, okay.

Megan: 28:56

But I find the only thing I'm trying well see you can see it as an easy one to dry. Mint is an easy one to dry time is an easy one to dry roseberry you can dry they're already fairly dry leaves so it doesn't take much to get them to dry out even further. When you use a dehydrator is usually for things that are more wet, like if you want to dry tomatoes, you want to dry peaches like you brought up or strawberries or something like that where you need it's gonna mold before it has time to dry if you just left it out, but anything that's leafy is really easy to dry because they tend to dry out pretty quickly and don't need a lot of extra help.

Nicole: 29:37

Sure. So what about purchasing food to preserve? You mentioned earlier, like, you know, avocados, we can't buy avocados here but I could go down to the store and buy them in bulk for a relatively affordable price. What are your thoughts on that?

Megan: 29:53

Yeah, that's certainly something you can do. I tend to focus on buying food in season in my local area. So there are certainly things that I preserve that I don't grow. So and I think that's an important thing to remember, because for a long time, I thought, well, I preserve the extra harvest from my own garden. But I still would go to the farmers market, sometimes I go to the farmers market, even though I have a big garden, there are some things that I don't grow like melons, so I go to the market and buy some melons during melon season. And then once I when I was there, I thought I should buy things to preserve, right? So I like to freeze a lot of broccoli, but I don't particularly like to grow broccoli, because it takes up a lot of room and it takes, you know, it's just, I don't think it's a vegetable that super worth it to grow it for me. And so I was at the farmers market, and somebody had this huge mound of broccoli florets, and they were like, $1 a pound. And I thought, why don't I just buy broccoli and freeze that? I thought, "Oh, my gosh, that's a good idea. Why did I never think about that before?" I was just so convinced that I was preserving only things from my own garden. And then that kind of opened up a whole world where I decided I could just buy anything that I want to preserve that I don't want to grow.

Nicole: 31:09

Sure.

Megan: 31:09

So broccoli is one of those things corn, I don't grow corn, but sometimes I freeze corn, I don't really grow a lot of winter squash, I don't have a ton of room for it. And so a lot of times I'll just buy a bunch of winter squash in the fall to store in the basement, I go blueberry picking, I go strawberry picking to really get a whole critical mass or something to freeze. But I don't have to make room in my garden, I don't have to take care of those plants, I don't have to coax that stuff along. So I think that's one thing to keep in mind in in the during the harvest season is kind of when all the food is at the optimal taste. But the prices are pretty cheap. Because everybody has the same thing. If you go to the farmers market where I live in August and September, there's just so much food. So the prices are pretty low. And you can get some good deals. Or you can go to you pick farms you can go to we have some auctions, some produce auctions are constant that you can go to, and then you can get a big amount. I've gotten tomatoes there and raspberries there to freeze. And so just keep that in mind. You don't necessarily have to grow everything you preserve, which for me was like a huge like, it might not be for you or anybody else. For me, it was.

Nicole: 32:23

No I think that's great, because, you know, you only have so much space. So you kind of have to pick and choose what you want to grow. And sometimes that can be limiting. And so I think that's great. And I've never heard of a produce auction. Maybe we just don't have them here in my part of Colorado. But that's really interesting. Oh, yeah. So I know that you have some resources, you mentioned your, your blog, and I know that you have a preserving book. So can you tell us about those resources?

Megan: 32:54

Sure. I have a website, which is called CreativeVegetableGardener.com. And I have lots of lots of articles and blog posts, I have an email list that you can sign up for if you'd like I send out an email every Sunday morning with videos and articles and upcoming classes and all kinds of stuff seasonally, usually seasonally appropriate for if you live somewhere around zone five and a half more for season area, I have two print books that I've written. One is about garden planning "Smart Start Garden Planner". And then the other one is "Super Easy Food Preserving". So if everything we talked about it kind of piqued your interest, you can grab either a print copy or a digital copy of my book from my website. And then I also have seven different online classes, I call Master Classes that most of the videos were filmed in my garden or in my kitchen. And I do have a food preserving one. And then attached to that is a free mini course if you want to just get a little taste of the way that I teach, you can do kind of like a little, it's called "Fill Your Pantry From Your Garden". And so you can get a little a little taste of that. So I have a page on my website that's CreativeVegetableGardener.com/freebies. And you can go over there and it shows you the different just different FREE Mini courses that I have and other resources that you can check out if you want.

Nicole: 34:20

Great. And I know that you sent me a copy a digital copy of your food preservation to take a look at and thank you for that. And I definitely recommend it if it's something that you guys are interested in. I know that I learned a lot from it. And I'm definitely going to be implementing some of those this year into my garden. So definitely check that out. It's a great resource and really it's something that pays for itself with with the food that you are able to save. So we'll of course put all of the links in the description as well. And Megan, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time and your knowledge today!

Megan: 34:54

Thanks for having me and I hope everyone is either having or will have a great gardening season.

Nicole: 35:00

Absolutely. And for those of you listening thank you so much for joining me for another episode and we'll see you again next week.

Announcer: 35:06

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Various types of preserved foods

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